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Senators Don’t Expect Cyber Security Bill to Pass this Year


security encryption rsaMuch of the critical infrastructures of developed nations like the U.S. depend on computer and network systems to operate and communicate. Hackers from nefarious nations and those who hack for fun can get into some of these critical systems potentially causing a security threat to the country.

In an effort to give the president the power to combat any pending or existing cyber threat that could threaten critical infrastructure around the country, Congress and some lawmakers are looking to pass a new legislation that would give the president power to shut down some sections of the internet during an attack or under the threat of an attack. With the 111th congress ending in December, lawmakers don’t expect to see any legislation on cyber security passed this year.


Republican staff director on the Senate Intelligence Committee Louis Tucker said, “I’m not optimistic of major cyber security legislation passing at this late time.” Tucker also stated during a cyber security discussion at the Heritage Foundations think tank, “Considering the objections to some of the cyber bills out there, comprehensive legislation will probably have to wait until next year.”

The controversial cyber security legislation that has some privacy advocates up in arms is sponsored by Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Tom Carper, D-Del. The problem that ACLU legislative counsel Michelle Richardson has with the legislation – dubbed the Lieberman-Collins-Carper bill – is that it doesn’t specify the powers it wants to grant to the president in times of crisis. Defense News reports that the legislation states, “[The president would be granted] emergency measures to protect the nation’s most critical infrastructure if a cyber vulnerability is being exploited or is about to be exploited.”

Aids to the Senators sponsoring the bill say that the bill “does not authorize the government to take over critical infrastructure.”

Richardson says, “[The Obama Administration must] disclose what authority it thinks it already has [before the new legislation can be considered].”

The bill reportedly seeks to defend critical networks with real-time monitoring capabilities and to establish security requirements for private sector networks. Companies that operate private networks would be required to notify the government of significant breaches. The information on the breaches would then be shared by the government with other network operators. The upside to reporting the breaches by operators of private networks would be liability protection. Despite no legislation to provide the president with powers to fight cyber threats, the DoD is ramping up its capability to defend against cyber threats.

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